Autoimmune Diseases

Autoimmune Disorders in Children

Autoimmune disorders are referred to different stages of autoimmune malfunction where a child’s immune system produces antibodies against self-tissue. Autoimmune disorders range from the earliest stage called ‘autoimmune reactivity’ where antibodies are present without apparent symptoms to the end-stage called ‘autoimmune diseases’ where clinical symptoms are present. The interval between the first detection of autoantibodies asymptomatic stage until the appearance of clinical symptoms can last up to 10 years.

Detection of antibodies at earlier stages of autoimmune disorder enables timely diagnosis and treatment before specific tissue damage and organ damage occurs and thus prevent the onset of many common diseases. Detection of these antibodies and prompt treatment can also limit tissue and organ damage in individuals who are already suffering from the symptomatic disease.

Some of the common childhood autoimmune diseases:

• Type 1 Diabetes (juvenile)
• Autoimmune Thyroiditis (AT)
• Celiac Disease
• Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
• Immune Thrombocytopenia Purpura (ITP)
• Juvenile Arthritis (JRA)
• Lupus (SLE)
• Psoriasis
• Vasculitis
• Etc.

Some of the common autoimmune-related diseases:

These are diseases that an autoimmune-related mechanism is postulated as one of the possible triggering mechanisms.

• Allergies
• Asthma
• Eczema
• PANS (Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome)
• PANDAS (Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections)

There are different ways that such autoimmune disorders can take hold in our bodies. It has been theorized, for example, that maternal sensitization to ingested allergens determines whether such antigens are transferred to her neonate through breast milk. There is some scientific research suggesting that childhood exposure to bacterial infections can cause an abnormal immune response to gluten. There are many studies that autoimmune disorders to food allergies and gluten sensitivities.

Some of the triggers of the autoimmune disorders include:

• Genetic predisposition
• Allergy
• Infections
• Toxins and chemicals
• Leaky gut
• Stress etc.

The treatment approach consists of a comprehensive mind-body approach and includes eliminating triggers, treating any untreated infections, healing the leaky gut, discovering and treating other body’s systems affected by the autoimmune process, and nutritional therapy to heal inflammation and symptoms.

An astute pediatrician, specializing in integrative medicine, who is well versed in identifying this disorder, its different clinical presentations, and its triggers, can make a potentially significant improvement in patient’s medical condition and the overall state of health.


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